This weekend, I stumbled on an article by Gabrielle Drolet called, “In Defence of Garlic in a Jar: How Food Snobs Almost Ruined My Love of Cooking.”
It’s a long read, but Drolet makes the point that cooking shortcuts are a great way to make the kitchen more accessible to people who have disabilities.
She mentions—but doesn’t elaborate on—the fact that some people use them for the sake of time, too. The opinion piece addresses the idea that so many food shows and blogs and posts push the concept that there are “right” and “wrong” ways to prepare food, and some of those opinions end up discouraging less experienced cooks from even attempting to try something new.
Personally, I’ve moved beyond my need to always follow every recipe to the letter, and as I have continued to experiment, I’ve learned which rules need to be followed and which ones can be ignored.
This week, for example, I decided not to both line my cake pan with parchment and spray it with cooking spray. I decided not to mix my wet and dry ingredients separately and then carefully mix them together with a wooden spoon. I decided to ignore the directive to coat my chocolate chips with flour before incorporating them into the batter.
And I still ended up with some delicious brownies—rules be darned—and I’m sharing the result with you so you can end up with a great pan of dessert, too, in spite of any rule-breaking behavior.
This comes from the blog “Spaceships and Laser Beams.” You can find the original post at https://spaceshipsandlaserbeams.com/coconut-brownies/. I added extra vanilla and chocolate chips in my version, along with simplifying the instructions.
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup butter melted
- 2 eggs
- 3 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 rounded cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
- 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare an eight-by-eight-inch baking pan by spraying it with cooking spray.
- For the brownie layer, in a mixing bowl, beat the sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Beat in the flour, cocoa powder and salt until everything is combined, and then stir in the chocolate chips.
- For the coconut layer, combine the coconut flakes, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Stir until all of the components are well combined.
- To assemble, spread half of the brownie batter evenly in the bottom of your prepared pan. Next, gently spread all of the coconut layer evenly over the brownie layer. Finish off with an even layer of the rest of the brownie batter.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top of the brownies looks set up and is just starting to pull away from the edges of the pan.
- Let the brownies cool completely before slicing so they fully set up. Store them in an airtight container.
These are super rich and really fudgy. The pan I made ended up being demolished at the office to rave reviews.
Based on the lovely photos on the blog that provided me with this recipe, I’d assume the author loves to follow rules—using her flour sifter, wooden spoons and multitude of mixing bowls for each recipe she makes—and that’s OK.
We all have our own style in the kitchen. Some people get joy from the extra steps. Some, like me, get joy from eliminating as many hand-wash-only dishes as possible from the process.
In the end, we all like to create, share and eat, and that’s really all that matters—jarred garlic or not.
This piece first appeared in print on July 21, 2022.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.